Published: 11/22/2012 - Updated: 07/07/2016
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), health is a state of equilibrium, which is influenced by the choice of food.
It's good to know that nutritional balance from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very different from Western nutrition. The modern nutrition is based on knowledge of the chemical composition of food and body's biochemical pathways. Western diets are concerned about quantifying the nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and learn to properly combine them to have a good nutrition and balance.
However, the TMC mentions that the balance is based on the forces of yin and yang, and their balance in our body.
Most of us are out of balance. We work very hard, do not rest enough, we have stress in our lives, and we have no time to take care of ourselves. When we are young, our bodies can correct imbalances easily. But if continue with excesses, ignoring signals our body about resting and care, we lose our ability to self-regulate.
The Yin and Yang forces
If we want to understand the balance that the TMC teach, we must first understand about these forces.
According to Eastern traditions, the forces of yin and yang are energetic qualities of everything in the universe, including our health.
The Chinese symbol for yin is the shady side of the hill, while yang symbol is the sunny side. So yin qualities include cold, wet and dark, in relation to the yang qualities of heat, dryness and light. Winter is yin, while summer is yang, yin is night and day is yang. Arthritis aggravated by cold weather is a yin condition. A red and swollen rash due to heat is a yang condition. If you are irritable with high blood pressure is relatively yang. An anemic woman and melancholy are relatively yin.
Yin foods therefore, cool and provide moisture to the body. While Yang food tend to heat and dry the body. This does not mean that a hot food is necessarily Yang, or vice versa.
The idea is to balance the energies to obtain optimal health.
Animal or Vegetable
With the exception of algae, all fruits and vegetables are yin.
Fish, meat, eggs, and almost all animal foods are yang foods.
Sweet or salty
The more sweet is a food, the more yin energy. Sugars and tropical fruits such as bananas and mangoes are good examples of very yin foods.
Salt hasyang energy. Any form of salt like cheeses and caviar are usually foods with yang nature.
Cold or hot
Fruits and vegetables are cooling to the body, and helpful for lowering the internal thermostat. Instead of food from animal origin, with its concentrated protein helps heat the body with yang properties.
In summer, we want to balance the hot energy with ying foods, lightly cooked or raw. We eat more salads, fresh fruits and food with seasonal changes just like in winter, we prepare soups (which can have both yin and yang energies), stews and roasts, and choose foods with more yang energy, this ensures that we will keep warm.
Fast or slow cooking
Saute and steam are yin cooking methods. The end result is just a little different from raw food.
Bake, stews and roast are yang cooking methods. These foods are concentrated, and tend to have the fusion of flavors and textures.
Some foods that we can select from yin nature are:
- Spices, chocolate, coffee or tea with caffeine stimulants
- Tropical fruits and juices
- Fats and Oils
- Some vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)
- Fresh dairy products (milk, fresh goat cheese)
These foods are in a "balanced" zone.
- Temperate fruits (apples, pears, berries, stone fruit, etc)
- Green leafy vegetables
- Round Vegetables
- Beans, tofu, tempeh
- TubersSea Vegetables
- Whole grains
The following foods can be classified as Yang energy:
- Miso, tamari.
- Cheese salted and cured
- Red meat and eggs
- Sea salt